Jewellers’ body alleges some bad eggs have turned to extortion using fake suspects and data
Recently, a head constable of the HSR Layout Police Station, went to a jeweller in the area and seized some 80 gm gold jewellery claiming it was stolen property. He was accompanied by a ‘thief’ who ‘identified’ the ornaments as the same he had sold to the jeweller after stealing it from elsewhere. The property was ‘recovered as part of investigations’.
The jeweller, who knew it wasn’t stolen, headed to the police station to talk to the higher-ups where the station in-charge informed him there was neither any theft case lodged, nor was the head constable sent for any recovery.
So what is the real story? The head constable had simply pocketed the gold on the pretext of an investigation that was never ordered, assuming that the jeweller would not pursue the matter out of fear.
Pressure from police
However, despite filing a complaint, the police are pressuring him to settle the issue “amicably” instead of pressing for action against their erring colleague. The explanation given by the station in-charge is that the man was due for retirement shortly days and any punitive action against him would hamper his post-retirement life.
H. Subbanna, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Madiwala Sub-Division, refuted the allegation and attributed the incident to a “misunderstanding” between the jeweller and the police. “The complaint has been submitted. We will watch the CCTV footage, verify it, and take appropriate action,” he said.
Interestingly, this incident occurred just three days after the city’s Jewellers’ Association lodged a formal complaint with the Chief Minister about how they were being duped of their gold by conniving police officials.
“Considering the complaints received by the members of the State Jewellery Traders and Workers Associations’ Federation, there are 786 such cases reported across the State, where the police pocketed around Rs. 360 crore,” federation president B. Ramachary told The Hindu.
Citing another example, he said a similar case had been reported in Jayanagar where a policeman confiscated 18 gm of gold from a jeweller accusing him of having received stolen property from a thief last month. When the jeweller demanded proof, the police handed over a copy of the mahazar report which turned out to be forged.
The jeweller, along with the association members, took it up with senior police officers and also filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.
Shortly thereafter, a policeman from Malleswaram was caught on the wrong foot when the suspect who accompanied him claimed he had sold 22 gm of stolen jewellery to the jeweller. The jeweller immediately alerted the federation, whose members arrived and grilled the suspect how he knew the precise weight of the jewellery. The suspect replied he had witnessed the jeweller put two weights of 20 grams and two grams while weighing the jewellery. It turned out the shop had an electronic weighing machine.
With his bluff called, the policeman beat a hasty retreat with an apology.
He got it all wrong
Another policeman in Ramanagaram town took along a ‘thief” and demanded gold weighing 92 grams which the thief had supposedly sold to a jeweller eight months ago. Here too the lawman ended up with egg on his face when informed the shop had opened only three and a half months back, Mr. Ramachary said.
The victims say such extortionate demands get inventive when the police tamper with the FIR to exaggerate the quantum of stolen gold and extract the difference from the jewellers.
Sources say often police detain a suspect and recover ‘stolen jewellery’ from more than 10 outlets by showing a single copy of FIR to all the jewellers. While this modus operandi nets them a cool 500 to 750 gm of gold valuables, they submit only a fraction of that to the court to show the recovery.
Needless to say, such racket involves creating fake suspects, taking them to jewellery outlets in handcuffs and making them confess to selling ‘stolen goods’.
Mr. Ramachary said the federation has recorded evidence of such extortion by the police. It even helped Lokayukta sleuths trap the Head Constable Sampath Narayana of Adugodi Police Station on January 9 while receiving gold from a jeweller whom he threatened with a false case if he did not pay.
When contacted, senior police officers refused to comment, saying though they had come across such complaints, there is no formal complaint to initiate investigations.